Friday night qualifying returns to NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at historic Bristol Dragway
For the first time in three years, Friday night qualifying will return to the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, where tall header flames shine brightly from sparkling race cars under the glow of stadium lights as countless flashes from fans' cameras flicker throughout the grandstands to create the surreal moment. It literally produces a can’t miss spectacle that you can only witness at an NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series event.
When the lights come on at revered Bristol Dragway to kick-off the Father’s Day weekend event (June 17-19), the combination of speed, sparks, fire and thunder produced from the biggest, baddest 11,000-horsepower NHRA Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars on the planet will surely send fans into a frenzy.
Hot-rodding enthusiasts literally can't wait for the sun to go down and the excitement to rev up when their NHRA heroes race down the legendary track at incredible speeds to kick off the first round of qualifying on Friday night at 8 p.m. ET.
"When we race there at night time it's incredible," said Matco Tools dragster driver and three-time NHRA Top Fuel champ Antron Brown. "When the sun goes down over the outer edge of the mountains and it gets dark we light those candles up on the Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars and I tell you what, we come through there hard and fast and send a roar of energy throughout all of Bristol."
For even the most seasoned motorsports fan, the thrill of witnessing a pair of nitro-fueled machines powering to the finish line under the cover of darkness can be life-changing.
NHRA Funny Car icon John Force, a 16-time world champion who has claimed four of his NHRA-record 155 victories at Bristol, says qualifying under the lights is a throwback to the sport’s early days and energizes the fans like nothing else.
"The nighttime there is beautiful, the way Bruton (Smith, SMI chairman) built that track with mountains and trees on both sides," the 73-year-old Force said. "For the fans, it's the best."
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they're granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans will get to see plenty of NHRA stars during the Father’s Day weekend event, like eight-time Top Fuel champ and six-time Bristol winner Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher, the aforementioned John Force and his Top Fuel driving daughter Brittany, Tony Stewart Racing Top Fuel driver Leah Pruett, Virginia cattle rancher Matt Hagan, five-time Bristol winner and defending Funny Car champ Ron Capps, Bristol Top Fuel dominator Mike Salinas, three-time Bristol Top Fuel winner Doug Kalitta, last year’s Funny Car winner Alexis DeJoria, four-time Top Fuel champ Steve Torrence and Top Fuel rising star Justin Ashley.
For the first time since 2018, the high-revving Pro Stock category will return to action at Bristol where defending champ and two-time Bristol winner Erica Enders will battle alongside category veteran Greg Anderson, third-generation racer Troy Coughlin Jr., and rising stars Dallas Glenn and Kyle Koretsky, among others.
The 200-mph Pro Stock Motorcycle class also will return this season and defending race winner Angelle Sampey will be looking to add a second Bristol trophy to her collection. Defending series champ Matt Smith, from King, N.C., Suzuki rider Steve Johnson, national record holder Karen Stoffer and Team Harley’s Eddie Krawiec will be among the two-wheelers looking to score a Thunder Valley victory.
The race also will feature action in the NHRA Lucas Oil Series and the Constant Aviation NHRA Factory Stock Showdown.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA's popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Qualifying for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals begins Friday, June 17 with the pro session beginning at 7 p.m., which will include the nitro qualifying at night, which starts at 8 p.m. The final two rounds of qualifying are set for Saturday, June 18, at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for noon on Sunday, June 19.
Friday’s 90-minute live qualifying show will air on FS1 at 8 p.m. (ET), and be followed by a one-hour Saturday qualifying highlights show at 11 p.m. (ET), also on FS1. Sunday’s three-hour final eliminations show will air at 3 p.m. (ET) on FOX.
Enough with the multi-colored neck ties and fancy pocket protectors, there's still time to purchase tickets and give your Dad an unforgettable Father's Day weekend experience. Weekend packages begin at just $94 while single-day Friday tickets start as low as $30 for adults. Saturday adult tickets start at $47 and Sunday’s tickets start at $37. Kids 12 and under tickets are free each day in grandstand sections A-U with a paid adult.
To purchase your reserved seats, call the Bristol Dragway ticket sales center at 866-415-4158. Tickets also are available for purchase online at www.bristoldragway.com.